Saturday, February 09, 2008

R K Misra journeys from village to Lead India

10 Feb 2008, 0139 hrs IST,TNN

Lead India winner R K Misra (second from left) with his family in New Delhi (TOI Photo)

NEW DELHI: It was a journey that began 42 years ago in Sonari, a small, impoverished village in UP's Sitapur district. The stage shifted to IIT Kanpur, then Tokyo University. A series of start-ups followed, with a stint in the US thrown in. But on Saturday night, life came full circle for R K Misra. As he outlined a plan to set up a cooperative dairy farm to transform life in the village where he was born, the jury and audience was visibly moved. After 10 rounds of challenging tasks and the scrutiny of hawk-eyed judges, it proved to be the decisive moment, helping Misra emerge winner of the Lead India contest. The man who never hesitates to speak his mind has often said that he believes he could be prime minister of India within 18 years. He has now taken a huge stride forward towards his ambitious goal. On Saturday, Misra showed just why he been a successful entrepreneur.

Asked how he would utilize the prize money of Rs 50 lakh if he won, he rattled off a well thought-out plan with time-bound targets and actionable goals. Wasn't he thinking small by focusing on just a dairy farm, asked permanent jury member Kiran Bedi. "I believe in leading by example. This farm will not only provide sustainable employment but also serve as a role model for other villages.

The biggest problem in India is ineffective implementation. There is a lot of talk, but little action. That is why my motto is 'work more, talk less'," said Misra to a round of thunderous applause. Questions from the other judges followed. As a person born in UP, who is now settled in Bangalore, what did he feel about protests against migrants, asked India's solicitor-general Goolam E Vahanvati. "I don't think most citizens support such protests. They are carried out by a handful of people with vested interests. Treat them as a law and order problem, crack down on them, and the problem will vanish," responded Misra.

When former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijay Singh asked him how he would ensure an efficient service delivery mechanism to rural areas, Misra mentioned his efforts to improve Bangalore's roads through public-private partnership. He suggested making panchayats aware of the Right to Information Act. He also paid tribute to another special judge, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, saying, "I am a huge fan of his".

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